Kandi Rose suffered date rape, gang rape, and incest. To cope, she mired herself in a toxic stew of addictions, including alcohol, drugs, pornography, and gambling. She earned a living as a prostitute and stripper who ran a successful strip-o-gram business.
Rose’s mother, Jeanne, came to faith in Christ and in 1984 led her to the Lord. Now as an Assemblies of God certified evangelist, based in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Rose wants to help others chained by addictions to likewise find hope and freedom.
That’s the purpose of Rose’s Addiction-Free Ministry, which offers video testimonies of those who have broken compulsions of all kinds through the power of Christ. Rose’s “traveling TV talk show” films the testimonies nationwide in churches and parachurch organizations. The program, which is called simply Addiction Free, airs weekly on Victory Television Network in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Total Living Network in Chicago.
In addition to her preaching ministry, she has written her biography Free at Last and offers referrals to Christian rehabilitation centers and recovery homes such as AG U.S. Missions Teen Challenge, which link addicts with hope for breaking their bondages.
“My main passion is preaching to congregations,” says Rose, 68. “I feel my message is for everyone.” That includes pastors who may never have struggled with addiction. She interviews pastors about their hearts to reach addicts with the hope of Christ.
“Testimonies bring hope that what He’s done for others, He can do for them,” Rose says. People may have traveled a pain-filled path of sorrows “but then they tell how they dedicated their lives to Christ and how the Lord has given them homes and jobs, but most of all, a relationship with Him.”
Stories of trials as a result of substance abuse or other addictions always end in hope for freedom through Christ, Rose says. It’s something she knows firsthand, failing many times to beat addictions on her own, finally finding success only when she became a fully devoted follower of Jesus. She gives a salvation opportunity at the end of interviews.
“If you want a new life, just make a wholehearted decision for Jesus,” she says. “Be willing to turn from your old lifestyle and follow Him with your whole heart. When I made that whole-heart commitment, the Holy Spirit came in. He gives you the power to say no to whatever it is.”
Rose stresses that it’s essential to grow in Christ or the addiction will once more take hold.
“Go to church, read the Bible, don’t hang around the people you used to hang around with,” she advises.
Through the years, Rose has operated nonprofit thrift stores, several of which she opened herself as a community outreach. About 12 years ago at one of these stores in Morrilton, Arkansas, she stood at the checkout counter when Deborah Trinity, a poor single mother of three, shopped for clothing. Rose gave her a copy of her book, Free at Last, which tells Rose’s story of overcoming vice through Christ.
That account resonated with Trinity, the daughter and granddaughter of prostitutes. Abandoned by her parents, she wound up in the foster care system and then on the streets. She had been molested as a child and became a promiscuous teen and young adult.
“I read the book. It made me cry,” says Trinity. She kept returning to the thrift store to talk to Rose. At last, Trinity prayed, God, if you can help her, you can help me.
Rose encouraged her to walk in the ways of the Lord and to work on the calling God put on her life. Trinity grew in her faith Bible studies where Rose mentored her. Trinity supports mission trips to Mexico and plans to go on the mission field.
“Kandi got me to seek God out,” Trinity says. “The Holy Spirit through her guided me.”
IMAGE: Kandi Rose (center) has helped many women in her ministry, including Deborah Trinity (left).